If you’ve ridden a roller coaster, you may be familiar with that bizarre stomach-dropping feeling right as the coaster drops. That feeling is usually just one of an emotional and physical medley of feelings that comes with trying a new, high-intensity experience! So, does your stomach drop when you skydive? An excellent question! And, we’re happy to share that among the things skydiving and roller coasters have in common, the stomach drop isn’t one of them! In this article, we’ll answer some related questions, like “What is it like to skydive?” and “Where does the tummy drop come from, and why do we feel it?”
What Does Skydiving Actually Feel Like?
That sometimes uncomfortable stomach drop is a common concern for newer jumpers, and many people choose not to skydive out of a fear of it. And yet, in skydiving it is a very rare feeling to experience.
What does skydiving feel like? It is difficult to convey the absolutely incredible and unique experience that is skydiving. The feeling of flying in the sky unconstrained by anything (with the exception of your tandem instructor of course!) is only truly possible to comprehend by jumping out of an airplane! Amazingly, you don’t feel like you’re falling during freefall; you feel like you’re floating on a column of air! And then, once the parachute opens, you’re suspended in the sky, unexpectedly relaxing while soaking in incomparable views from thousands of feet above stunning Key West!
Most people think that the stomach drop feeling will happen during freefall but, as we’ve covered, not so! Interestingly, it’s when you’re flying under the parachute that there’s the potential for some of that funny, buzzy feeling in your belly. If you don’t like that feeling, tell your instructor. They can fly the canopy in a calm, mild way to avoid it (or in a wild way if you love it!).
Why Doesn’t Skydiving Feel Like A Drop Ride?
When a roller coaster drops, it is typically after a long climb and from a slow or even briefly stopped position. If this sounds familiar, odds are you remember your stomach drops right as the coaster surges downwards. You may even remember that the feeling is greater the further back you sit in the roller coaster.
This happens because you’re moving from zero or near zero miles per hour to an extreme speed. Your belly flip flops for a good evolutionary reason – it doesn’t seem like things will end well! This is a super-charged fight-or-flight moment! Sitting further back on the coaster generally produces more of this feeling since the weight of the coaster ahead of you pulls you down even faster than if you sat toward the front.
When you skydive, though, you’re traveling in a plane that’s going about 100 miles per hour. And when you exit the aircraft, you are thrust into the airflow. This air feels like a cushion, softening your exit while you get clear of the aircraft. This lasts for the first few seconds of your jump while you gradually accelerate to 120 miles per hour and reach terminal velocity. This portion of the skydive is known as “the hill” and it’s about as extreme as sticking your head out the window while driving down a highway. No big deal.
So, does skydiving feel the same as a roller coaster? Not at all. Trust us, if riding a roller coaster was like skydiving, instead of jumping, we’d be busy visiting every theme park on the map!
Tips To Calm Your Stomach
Does your stomach feel weird when you skydive? Most upset stomachs in our sport come from nervousness and anxiety ahead of the jump. This is okay and completely natural; we help people through it all the time. For most, it comes from a mental state rather than a physical one, which means there is a lot we can do to help if you may be feeling a little unwell.
Here are a few quick tips to help you soothe the butterflies in your stomach:
Get a good night’s sleep. The nightlife is great in Key West – we know it can be hard to turn in early! But a great skydiving experience starts with quality shuteye. Get some rest and bring your best self to the dropzone.
Don’t skydive hungover. Oof. If motion sickness is a concern, definitely don’t come to the dropzone hungover. You’ll feel green around the gills for sure, and that’s not the skydiving memory you want to take home with you!
Eat normally and stay hydrated. Dehydration or an empty or overfull belly don’t mix well with skydiving. Eat normally before you head to the dropzone; maybe on the lighter side if you typically go for heavier fare. And keep water on hand, especially in the heat of summer.
Breathe. Anxiety can make you feel short of breath – to the point where some folks unintentionally hold their breath on exit and in freefall. Take some deep cleansing breaths on the plane as you head to altitude and remind yourself to breathe during your jump! If you feel like you can’t, scream! You’ll have to take a breath to make a good scream out!
Communicate! If you’re not feeling 100%, talk honestly with your instructor. They’ve heard it all and seen it all and most likely have some great feedback to share on what might help you feel better. Safety is their top priority, and giving you the time of your life is a very close second.
So, is skydiving scarier than roller coasters? That’s for you to decide. We all have our unique fears. What we can say for sure is that skydiving and roller coasters are not apples to apples.
The best way to find out what a skydive is like, truly, is to come for a jump! We would be honored to welcome you into our Key West “sky family” and show you what skydiving feels like firsthand. Book your tandem skydive with us – we jump year-round in the sweet Florida sunshine! Blue skies.
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